By Mayowa Okekale, Abuja.
Stakeholders in Rivers State of Nigeria has asked the UK based Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) to call off their proposed program to host the River State Governor Nyesom Wike next week.
In a terse press release jointly signed and made available to the media in Abuja on Friday, two groups known as Public Eye on Democracy (PED) and Lawyers’ Network for the Prevention of Electoral Violence (LANPEV) expressed their surprise that such a highly respected think-tank can offer their platform for such a man that they described as a discredited politician.
The groups recalled that the period before, during and after the elections in the state were marred with violent killings and political assassinations. They said: “there are a lot of information available in the public domain about how the Rivers State governor bribed some members of the Nigerian police and electoral officials with about 360 million naira (about one million dollars) to manipulate the results of the gubernatorial elections in 2015”.
They pronounced Mr. Wike as a desperate politician who has squandered the goodwill of his people and is now travelling around the world to procure any form of legitimacy.
Observing further, they recalled that the governor was caught on audio tape arranging bribe for electoral official during the elections, saying according to the leaked tape, when some electoral officials resisted his offers, he was said to have threatened to kill them.
“After Mr. Wike was announced the winner, several international organisations that observed the elections like the Common Wealth and the European Union raised concerns about the elections which they described as ‘shambolic exercise which does not come not near anything free and fair’.
“Many supporters of the opposition in the state were summarily shot in places like Gokana, Khana, Omoku and other Kalabari areas of the state.
“An estimated 138 persons have so far lost their lived before, during and after the election that brought Mr. Wike to power.
“Many of those who were killed were beheaded and after which their remains were burnt allegedly by cult groups said to be loyal to the governor.
“Violent killings, kidnapping and confrontations with the police have continued in the state leading to numerous loss of lives.
‘Faced with loss of public confidence due to his negative track record, Mr Wike has been travelling to spread what many people in the state see as ‘lies and propaganda’ to sell himself to the international community”, the groups added.
The groups however enjoined international organisations who want to host Nigerian politicians to be cautions and, to first, conduct a due diligence on them, warning Chatham House to call off the proposed event because it will lead to the loss of public confidence and negative perception, especially by many Nigerians who admire Chatham House.
The said: “Hosting a character like Wike who is widely known for his belief that everything is for sale will create an adverse and unhelpful impression among Nigerian public that some members of your organisations might have been compromised”.